November 2000


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Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
George Salzman <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 5 Nov 2000 11:17:30 -0500
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Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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      The flurry of sign-offs from Science for the People this past week
troubled me, but also made me laugh at myself. Here I am trying to promote
real worldwide democratic community development, with communication networks
linking local communities, because I don't believe there's any other
possibility to rid the world of the overwhelming destructiveness of global
capitalism, and to build the kind of world I want. And as though to mock me,
here this tiny, fairly homogeneous group that Steve Cavrak and I tried to
resurrect a couple of years ago seemed on the verge of dissolving. Am I nuts
to be trying? Has the dominant ideology so twisted everyone's psychological
framework that even we can't stick together? I hope not. I'd love to see the
people who signed off reconsider, but not because they are successfully
"guilt-tripped." Rather, I think we ought to try to make the discussion list
better serve the needs of all of us.
      One of those who signed off cited what "seemed to be a totally
unfiltered flooding of the site with reported horror stories about science,
accompanied by outraged messages, without any attempt to distinguish reality
from distortion or fiction", and said that by contrast the Struik
communications were very interesting. In that particular instance it was the
public chiding of Martin Perl that was "the last straw", but clearly other
straws preceeded it that motivated signing off. Although I don't agree that
the postings on our site deserve such "broad-brush" condemnation, some of
them have been pretty lacking. But any effort to mediate the site has its
own serious complexity. My preference is that we try to be more respectful
of each other.
      And now a different (but related) subject. An enormous change is
happening in Mexico. Not only was the long-ruling Institutional
Revolutionary Party (the PRI) swept out in the federal elections last July,
but in Chiapas, an until-now near-feudally-run state, a unified opposition
of many parties beat the PRI in August, and now, significantly, the federal
government moved just this last week to arrest an important group of
paramilitary thugs, whose very existence the government denied for years in
its unremitting "low-intensity warfare" against the Zapatista base support
communities. Conceivably these developments could be the beginning of a
change of "revolutionary" stature in Mexico. I've written an open letter to
the incoming president that gives my understanding of the reality
confronting Mexico, and how to deal with it, and I'm inviting everyone who
agrees to send it or a similar letter, with the (vain) hope of possibly
influencing future events. The letter, in both English and Spanish versions,
is available at
Please feel free to use it, or to modify it to suit yourself. The mailing
address is:
   Sr. Presidente-electo Vincente Fox Quesada
   Dirección bien conocido
   San Cristóbal, Guanajuato, Mexico
      If you want an easily printable file for the letter, I'll be glad to
e-mail one, which fits on two sides of a single sheet. I'd have attached the
files to this message if it were possible to do so.